Kildare keep options open after excellent nine-point win over Monaghan

Ben McCormack plays key role for Lilywhites who finish league season unbeaten at home

Kildare 0-24 Monaghan 1-12

Kildare have it all to play for heading into the final round of games next weekend after this huge win over Monaghan in Newbridge left them with an outside chance of making the Division One final.

That would be an unlikely bonus for Glenn Ryan’s team and their focus will remain on getting a result away to Mayo that will ensure they don’t face an immediate return to Division Two, and on the basis of this performance they have every chance of doing that.

They suffered a late blow when star forward Daniel Flynn was forced to withdraw through injury but his absence was scarcely noticed as Kildare raced into a 0-6 to 0-0 lead by the 12th minute.

All of their full-forward line – Darragh Kirwan, Jimmy Hyland and Paddy Woodgate – got on the scoresheet during that spell and by the end of the game that trio had contributed 15 points.

Their star player, however, was Ben McCormack. The centre half forward kicked three points himself but had a hand in countless others in a stunning individual display.

Monaghan did briefly rally through the midway point of the first half, and cut the Kildare lead back to three points on a couple of occasions, but they never really convinced that they could get over their lacklustre start, and apart from Conor McManus and Gary Mohan they struggled to convert the limited chances they created.

It was 0-12 to 0-7 in favour of Kildare at half-time and rather than Monaghan eating into that lead early on, Kildare scored the first four points after the restart.

Monaghan were briefly given a reason for hope when Conor McCarthy's goal reduced a 10-point gap to seven with 20 minutes to go, but just over a minute later their hopes of building on that strike took a massive blow when they were reduced to 14 men following a black card shown to Andrew Woods for a foul on Tony Archbold.

Before Monaghan returned to 15 players, Kildare lost a man themselves when Mick O’Grady was shown a second yellow card on the hour mark for a push on Ryan McAnespie just as he was about to shoot for a goal, but even that couldn’t slow Kildare down.

Alex Beirne and Brian McLoughlin came off the bench and got in on the scoring act, and even though Kildare were reduced to 13 men before the end when Kirwan also received a second yellow card deep into injury-time, nothing was going to take the smile off their supporters' faces after this hugely important win.

Kildare have now finished the Division One campaign unbeaten on their home pitch but are likely to need at least their first result in an away game this season when they travel to Carrick-on-Shannon, while Monaghan are facing into a must-win game against Dublin in Clones.

KILDARE: A O'Neill; M O'Grady, S Ryan, R Houlihan (0-1); T Archbold, J Murray, D Ryan; K Feely (0-2), K Flynn; K O'Callaghan, B McCormack (0-3, one mark), P Cribbin 0-1; P Woodgate (0-4, two frees), D Kirwan (0-5), J Hyland (0-6 , two frees, one mark).

Subs: P McDermott for O'Callaghan (53 mins), A Beirne (0-1) for Cribbin, 60; D Malone for D Ryan, 65; B McLoughlin (0-1) for McCormack (65 mins), T Hoey for Feely (70).

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; K Duffy, C Boyle, R Wylie; R McAnespie, K Lavelle, G Mohan (0-3); D Hughes, D Ward (0-1); C McCarthy (1-0), M Bannigan, S Carey; A Woods, K Hughes, C McManus (0-8, seven frees).

Subs: D Wylie for Boyle (h-t), N Kearns for K Hughes (40 mins), C Walshe for Bannigan (43), K O'Connell for D Hughes (47), S Jones for Woods (62).

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).